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Mary Magdalene

July 22, 2020

“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he has said these things to her.” John 20:18

Today, July 22, is the Feast of Mary Magdalene, often regarded as “the apostle to the apostles.” The four evangelists all note that women were present at both Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection; the three synoptic authors tell us that women were also present at the burial of Jesus. In each case, when names are listed, Mary Magdalene’s appears.

While the men betrayed, denied, fled in terror, and hid in fear, Mary Magdalene stayed with her Lord. She wept without hope as she went to the tomb on Easter morning, but she went anyway. And when Jesus greeted her in the garden and spoke her name, she was the first to see Jesus again. She went to the disciples, announcing that she had seen the Lord.

The first preacher of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a woman.

Perhaps this is why men have spent centuries attempting to denigrate her. But there’s no reason to think she is the sinful women in Luke 7 or the adulterous woman in John 8. (Frankly, even if she were either of those women, so what? Is it our business to look down upon one whom Jesus has forgiven? Isn’t one of those stories about casting the first stone and all that?) The only thing the scriptures tell us about Mary, other than that she hailed from Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, is that Jesus had cast out seven demons from her and that she, in return, followed him. With other women, she supported Jesus and his disciples, providing for their needs out of their own resources.

The scriptural witness is clear. Mary Magdalene supported Jesus in his life, stayed with him as he died and was buried, and was present first at his resurrection. We commemorate her today because she was the first to do what we all should do: Cling to Christ in his death and resurrection, following him and supporting his work.

We thank you, Lord, for your servant Mary Magdalene. May we hear the same gospel she preached on Easter morning. We may go and share this good news.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of power and love, you have cast out all that afflicts us. May we live to support your work, witnessing always to the redemptive power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thank you for Mary, and all your saints, who have gone before us in faith and rest now in your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Mary Magdalene Under the Cross, attributed to Matthijs Wulfraet, c. 1690s (public domain).

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